Sat, October 2, 2021
It has been 18 months since the first cases of COVID-19 were discovered in Indonesia. Much progress has been made since – the government launched a vaccination program in mid-January 2021 and aims to vaccinate 70% of the population by the end of the year.
The government is easing restrictions in more areas as new cases have been on the decline since August 2021, which is good news for the tourism and hospitality sectors. With health protocols and safety measures in place, domestic travel is steadily picking up and the trend of stays is expected to become even more popular.
However, Indonesia is not yet out of the woods. The tourism and hospitality sectors are among the hardest hit by the pandemic due to blockages and mobility restrictions. Hotel occupancy rates dropped significantly last year, and many hotels are still operating with single-digit occupancy rates today. More than 2,000 hotels were permanently closed during the pandemic, according to the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI). Therefore, those who are still in business must quickly adapt to the new normal in order to survive the global crisis.
Since hotels are places with a high degree of interaction between guests and staff, implementing comprehensive cleanliness and safety measures is essential to limit the potential spread of the virus. Measures may include the provision of hand sanitizers, increased cleaning of public areas like the lobby, reception areas and elevators, as well as ensuring social distancing and adequate air circulation. Best hygiene practices are crucial in gaining the trust of your guests.
An initiative like HygienePass aims to build the confidence of travelers, so that they feel safe and protected when staying in a hotel. HygienePass is an industry-wide cleaning and sanitation certification program for the hospitality sector that was first introduced in Indonesia in collaboration with the Indonesian Association of Public Health Experts (IAKMI ).
To achieve HygienePass certification, hotel operators or property owners must implement and maintain a variety of hygiene measures on a daily basis, from temperature checks for staff and guests to adopting a specific cleaning methodology. to disinfect rooms and public spaces. The IAKMI will assess the hygiene process before awarding certification to hotel establishments.
RedDoorz has issued HygienePass certificates to 1,200 hotels to date. On average, hotels saw their occupancy rate increase by 10% after the implementation of the program.
The pandemic is a revelation for the hospitality industry because it has forced industry players to be more agile and flexible to face new challenges. This means embracing digitalization more than ever to increase productivity and reduce operational costs.
Embracing technology doesn’t mean every hotel has to build their own mobile apps overnight. Hoteliers can gradually embrace digital functionality. Investing in a contactless check-in that allows guests to access their reserved room using mobile devices could be a good place to start. The contactless recording feature is more and more popular nowadays because it minimizes physical contact.
Another example of a technological application in hotel management is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) powered chatbots for customer service. Chatbots provide 24/7 intelligent support and communication gateway for customers; provides instant responses to common queries and improves the overall customer experience. As a result, the technology can help reduce customer support costs by 30%, according to IBM.
As contactless check-ins will become more common in the near future, hotels should explore the use of AI facial recognition to keep guests and staff safe.
In addition to chatbots, phone bots could also be the future trend. The feature aims to provide better and faster services to customers. For example, if a customer needs extra towels, they can make a request from a phone call and will automatically send the request to the housekeeper instantly. This automation plays a critical role in improving customer service in terms of accuracy, cost efficiency and speed.
Homeowners should embrace digitalization to meet changing demands in a post-COVID-19 world. Take advantage of real estate management applications and tools to access training, information and advice from real estate partners when needed.
Following the positive developments in the battle against COVID-19, the travel industry is expected to rebound stronger and grow faster than during the pre-COVID era. Thanks to the rapid digitalization of the industry, hotels and restaurants are adapting quickly to technology and people will want to travel as soon as the vaccination program is over and restrictions are lifted.
The pandemic has taught us the importance of innovation during difficult times. It has also taught us that we are sometimes unable to manage everything on our own, especially in areas with direct contact with customers such as the hospitality industry. Hotel owners who proactively harness technology in ways that are both small and innovative, while keeping things nimble and flexible, will likely stay ahead of their competition.
The hotel landscape is constantly changing and partners need to support each other to build capacity, especially when faced with unexpected challenges.
The author is vice president of operations, RedDoorz.